Saskatchewan

Street art project in downtown Moose Jaw part of family-friendly walking tour

The Downtown Moose Jaw Association is hoping to revive the city's local tourism by creating a new art project geared toward families.

More than 30 pieces of public infrastructure will be transformed into art

Visual artist Carly Jaye Smith paints angel wings on a public bench across the street from Moose Jaw's city hall on Main Street and Fairford Street. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Before she became an artist herself, Carly Jaye Smith was given the chance to help paint a mural in downtown Moose Jaw.

She was just a kid at the time, but the feeling of turning public spaces into art has always stuck with her.  

"I hope I can give that back," Smith said. 

The artist is now inviting local kids to help with a street art project designed to beautify downtown Moose Jaw. 

More than 30 pieces of public infrastructure — including benches, garbage receptacles and fire hydrants — are getting a fresh coat of paint along the city's Main Street. 

"I hope it's inspiring younger artists to want to get into things like this in their future," Smith said of the the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Creative Kids Downtown Project. 

Pedestrians pass by a watermelon-themed garbage receptacle in downtown Moose Jaw. The idea was created by Moose Jaw artist Kayla Hanson. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Smith, along with artists Kayla Hanson and Maguire Sotnikow, have been tasked with creating kid-friendly designs, then painting them onto public spaces. 

"It's a nice way to provide a canvas that's in the public and not always hidden inside the walls of the galleries. It's just there for everybody to see and to enjoy," said Hanson, who gets her inspiration from her three-year-old son. 

A Pac Man bench in downtown Moose Jaw created by Carly Jaye Smith. The bench is part of The Moose Jaw Kinsmen Creative Kids Downtown Project. More than 30 benches, fire hydrants, bike racks and garbage receptacles will be painted by the time the project ends in July. ( Matt Duguid/CBC)

So far the three artists have created more than a dozen public art pieces, including turning a fire hydrant into a gumball machine and a bench into a box of crayons. 

Once it's completed in July, the project will be part of a new family-friendly walking tour. 

This gumball fire hydrant, located on the southwest corner of Main and River Street, was painted by Moose Jaw artist Kayla Hanson. It is reminiscent of Moose Jaw's past. In the 1990's, the city launched a fire hydrant painting program where members of the public put art on neighbourhood hydrants in the South Hill area. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

The Downtown Moose Jaw Association will be providing a free map of all the locations through its website. 

"There wasn't anything kid driven yet [in downtown Moose Jaw]," said Leslie Campbell, member of the Downtown Moose Jaw Association.

"This will be something that tourists coming to Moose Jaw are going to make a point of checking out."

Moose Jaw artist Maguire Sotnikow painted crayons on this city bench located on the northeast corner of River Street and Main Street. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Alex Carleton, who owns the Crushed Can Rec Room and Bar in downtown Moose Jaw, said businesses in the area have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

He hopes the art project will help revive the local economy as the province emerges from the pandemic. 

"Anything we can do to make tourists and the people of Moose Jaw experience downtown and make it more enjoyable is great for all the businesses," said Carleton. 

Moose Jaw artist Kayla Hanson paints a garbage bin in front of city hall. The Moose Jaw Kinsmen Creative Kids Downtown Project aims to make the city's downtown more kid-friendly. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

So far, the community has responded well to the project. 

"It makes people happy. We keep hearing comments that this is bringing joy to our downtown," Smith said. 

"That's all we can really hope for, that this keeps spreading and that we soon have a bright, beautiful, colourful downtown, instead of a bunch of old brick buildings."

A moose bench, painted by Maguire Sotnikow, is appropriately placed in front of Moose Jaw's city hall. ( Matt Duguid/CBC)

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